Targeted debated, highly criticized form of racial profiling

consideration of racial bias’s or racial profiling by law enforcement, is
something that the highest courts have reviewed constitutional grounds several
times, including whether such profiling constitutes a violation of the Fourth
Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure or the equal
protections provided and guaranteed under the Fourteenth Amendment.  Under the Fourth Amendment, the constitution
protects and allows people the right to be secure in their houses persons,
effects, and paper, against unreasonable searches and seizures, and shall not
be violated. Terry v. Ohio, 1968 The Supreme Court
found that reasonable, articulate suspicion was enough grounds for any police
officer to stop and question a citizen. Such the suspicion must never be based
on any officer’s  ” unjustifiable
suspicion or ‘hunch,’ but on the Reasonable and specific inference which he is
able to draw facts from his experience.” Terry
employed a totality of circumstances test to determine the reasonableness of
police investigatory stops.

A “Pre-textual”
traffic stop is a hotly debated, highly criticized form of racial profiling
that has involved “pretextual stop, detaining those members of a minority
for routine traffic violations in order to conduct a criminal investigation. Whren v. United States (1996) were two drivers who were
charged with drug offenses based on evidence discovered after they were pulled over
for pausing at a stop sign. Turning without using a signaling device and imprudent
take off speed. The court held and affirmed “that the Fourth Amendment is not
violated when a minor traffic infraction is a pretext rather than the actual
motivation for a stop by law enforcement officers.” (Johnson,2010) The Whren case did not however, hold that the police officers’
motivation for stop was entirely irrelevant when probable cause for a stop is
based on a traffic violation. “The Constitution prohibits selective
enforcement of the law based on considerations such as race. But the
constitutional basis for objecting to intentionally discriminatory application
of laws is the equal protection clause, not the Fourth Amendment. Subjective
intentions play no role in ordinary, probable-cause Fourth Amendment
analysis.” (Johnson, 2010)

The fourteenth
amendment states “No state shall deny to any person within its
jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” With regard to the Whren ruling in 1996, racial profiling has become very
susceptible to two different kinds of equal protection challenges in the eyes
of the court. First, respondents may argue conduct of a law enforcement
official may be racially motivated and that the law enforcement official stopped
or questioned the suspect because of racial prejudice. Thus if any law
enforcement agency or official adopts and employs any practice in any situation
and takes steps to start any investigation of a citizen in the united states
based solely upon that citizen’s racial make up or further more, then a
violation of the equal protection clause under the fourteenth amendment has

The idea of racial
profiling and proof of discriminatory intent within the context of the law is
nothing new. Especially when looking at due process and whether or not discrimination
has occurred or the intention was absolved. This is overtly true in looking at
specific cases such as in Arnold V. Ballard (1978) the Supreme court stated
that “In determining whether the nature of discriminatory actions were a
motivating factor behind a law enforcement officers reasons and demands, there
must be a sensitive and arduous inquiry into such circumstantial and direct
evidence of intent as may be available.”  Absent to all of this is evidence of police
motivation and any overtly discriminatory policy to evidence of racial bias’s,
respondents face burdens of an evidentiary nature. Any petitioner alleging
selective enforcement of neutral laws of the constitution must validate that
the challenged law enforcement actions and practice “had a discriminatory
nature of effect and that it was provoked by a discriminatory action and purpose.”
In United States v. Armstrong, each of the criminal
defendants filed motions to strike their drug charges and firearms charges as
selective prosecution based on racial bias’s. The SCOTUS rejected the motion to
strike because similarly there’s no idea that and no exhibition that criminal
prosecutors treated defendants of another race different than others in the
same situation. Justice Reinquist wrote ” a selective prosecution claim is not
a defense against a crime but an independent assertion that the prosecutor has
brought the charge for reasons forbidden by the constitution. Thus, when a
defendant makes such a harsh assertion, he should be prepared to prove it”
(Justia, U.S. V Armstrong, 1996). 

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